Theresa May’s faltering Brexit deal may be back in play today after the DUP and David Davis both made major concessions.
The Prime Minister’s plan to give Northern Ireland a separate customs arrangement in some sectors after Brexit to keep a soft border with Ireland was sunk yesterday by the DUP.
But Brexit Secretary David Davis today told MPs any special customs deal agreed for Northern Ireland would extended to the rest of the UK – echoing the suggestion of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson.
That led the DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds to soften his position and admit there may need to be “regulatory alignment” with the EU in some areas – meaning the deal could be back on the table.
The concessions could be enough to allow the EU to vote in favour of sufficient progress in the talks at a summit next week, and allow the negotiations to move on to trade.
In an insight into Monday’s day of drama, in which a deal on the Irish border seemingly came and went, Dodds revealed he and his DUP colleagues only saw the proposed agreement just before lunch.
He told reporters: “Despite several briefings in the course of the past few weeks we only received written text late yesterday morning.
“We understand this was due in part to delays caused by the Irish government and the EU negotiating team.
“Upon immediate receipt of that text we indicated to senior government representatives it was clearly unacceptable in its current form.”
When asked if he believed regulatory alignment was different from harmonisation, Dodds said: “Northern Ireland already has a single energy market with the Irish republic so there are already areas where we can cooperate with the energy market and areas where it may make sense to have some kind of regulatory alignment in certain specific areas, but not in relation to following the rules of the Single Market or the customs union for northern Ireland as a generality.”
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